Morphology of sea-floor landslides on Horizon Guyot: application of steady-state geotechnical analysis
Mass movement and erosion have been identified on the pelagic sediment cap of Horizon Guyot, a seamount in the Mid-Pacific Mountains. Trends in the size, shape and preservation of bedforms and sediment textural trends on the pelagic cap indicate that bottom-current-generated sediment transport direction is upslope. Slumping of the sediment cap occurred on and that the net bedload transport direction is upslope. Slumping of the sediment cap occurred on the northwest side of the guyot on a 1.6° to 2.0° slope in the zone of enhanced bottom-current activity. Submersible investigations of these slump blocks show them to be discrete and to have a relief of 6-15 m, with nodular chert beds cropping out along the headwall of individual rotated blocks. An evaluation of the stability of the sediment cap suggests that the combination of the current-induced beveling of the sea floor and infrequent earthquake loading accompanied by cyclic strength reduction is responsible for the initiation of slumps. The sediment in the area of slumping moved short distances in relatively coherent masses, whereas sediment that has moved beyond the summit cap perimeter has fully mobilized into sediment gravity flows and traveled large distances. A steady-state geotechnical analysis of Horizon Guyot sediment indicates the predisposition of deeply buried sediment towards disintegrative flow failure on appropriately steep slopes. Thus, slope failure in this deeper zone would include large amounts of internal deformation. However, gravitational stress in the near-surface sediment of the summit cap (sub-bottom depth< 14 m) is insufficient to maintain downslope movement after initial failure occurs. The predicted morphology of coherent slump blocks displaced and rafted upon a weakened zone at depth corresponds well with seismic-reflection data and submersible observations.